Movie Review – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

More like Mission Impossible: Waste Protocol. The fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible series is probably the swansong for Tom Cruise as  IMF Agent Ethan Hunt and an attempt at laying down the groundwork for a new protagonist (remember Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ?). It continues in the same vein as a spy caper would and ignoring several plot holes and plain stupid scenes, it still is more-or-less an exciting & watchable movie.

But is it a blockbuster and blow-your-minds-away type of a movie? Not for me.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

MI4 or MI:GP begins with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being helped to pull off a Prison Break from a Moscow jail by the IMF team of Benji (Simon Pegg) & Jane (Paula Patton) and then they all join in another should-they-choose-to-accept mission of stealing some files on a global overlord named Cobalt from…hold on…The Kremlin (yeah, how to top Langley & The Vatican? Kremlin, of course). Some supraawsome tech jiggery-pokery later, all hell breaks loose when the Kremlin is bombed, IMF suspected and subsequently disavowed. Joined by IMF’s analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner), the team then head out to Dubai & hang out at the Burj Khalifa (see what I did there?) before tackling the final dénouement at Mumbai (pah!)

When the first Mission: Impossible movie was watched way back in 1998, it was an action packed and enthralling adventure rollercoaster of a movie where the viewer is compelled not to take their eyes or minds off the movie throughout. John Woo kinda put in unnecessary pigeons and slow motions in MI2 but it still was watchable, more so for the Thandie Newton – Tom Cruise chemistry than the whole Chimera/Bellerophon gobbledygook. JJ Abrams brought in added style & suaveness to MI3, which also saw Hunt lose a protégé and get marries. Plus, it had a really devilish antagonist in Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian.

Where MI4 lacks a punch is the clear absence of a really rascally villain and a weak attempt at creating a compelling crisis-y situation for the IMF team to tackle. The villain Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) is a nuclear strategist out to kick-start a new cycle of evolution by destroying the existing civilization. And how? a global nuclear war incited between the USA & Russia? Yawn. Should have just signed up for Terra Nova, maybe! Plot holes and unexplained jumps are abound, though the pace of the movie is such that you don’t think “hang on! how’d they do that” immediately but the question keeps nagging at you nevertheless. Some of the gadgets depicted are also meh, in a way. And I’ll not even start on the sandstorm or the entire Mumbai sequence…

What the movie does accomplish is that it ticks the checkboxes for a racy opening scene, the mandatory choice of mission acceptance, exotic locations, usage of latex masks (only one though) and the one pièce de résistance stunt. Additionally, the movie has added emphasis on teamwork between the four primary characters – something which MI3 had but was better IMO in MI1. A lot of effort also goes behind their character development and how they work for each other not because they have to but because they want to.

Tom Cruise appeared to me as going through the motions and a tad disinterested sometimes. Paula Patton does ok as a revenge-seeking lady but reined in. Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt might yet be the next Ethan Hunt and he does his chances a world of good but he doesn’t look like doing the stunts on his own. Simon Pegg plays his role as the geek-in-the-field with aplomb.

Director Brad Bird has only directed animated movies before & does well in lending the movie the desired scale and flamboyance. He also brings in some funniness into the goings-on in a cheeky self-deprecatory way, poking fun at the spy genre itself. The background score and title theme were not upto scratch, though. The screenwriters also write in cameo appearances for Ving Rhames and Michele Monaghan at the end. And it is no big secret that there *is* a room for sequel.

Most of the people I know who’re raving about the movie had seen the IMAX version and it should lift up the visual experience of the movie a notch but wouldn’t have made it a better movie than it is, right? One-time watch in IMAX and rent the DVD of the first Mission Impossible and re-watch it, I’d say.

Rating:  2/5

Ek Deewana Tha – Teaser

Contrary to popular belief (well, not really that popular considering it was only me) this is NOT the Part 2 or sequel of the Urmila Matondkar – Saif Ali Khan starrer Ek Hasina Thi!

Ek Deewana Tha is actually the Hindi remake of the Tamil film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa which had Simbu and Trisha in the lead roles. It was also simultaneously made in Telugu as Ye Maaya Chesave with Naga Chaitanya and Samantha innit. Though both movies became hits, their standout point was A.R. Rahman’s music – songs & tunes are the same in both versions. The Hindi version is directed by the same director – Gautham Menon and has Pratiek Babbar and Brit gal (A Miss Liverpool!) Amy Jackson & is said to have two completely new songs.

Though I’ve never been a fan of Telugu movies of this type, YMC registered a seismic presence around me coz of the incessant chatter about how good it was, how good the music was, how gorgeous Samantha was blah blah blah…couple of my friends were so hooked to the music, they had it as their ringtones as well as caller tunes! This post is dedicated to them…

Movie Review – The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Having had shunned movies for a while, I was waiting for a good one to break the self-imposed exile – and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn was definitely a good choice to do that. Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Georges Remi a.k.a Herge’s characters – the intrepid boy reporter Tintin, his dog Snowy and the foul-mouthed but likeable Captain Haddock – comes to life in an animated rollercoaster of an adventure.

I’m not a huge fan of Tintin and his adventures (well, there was the time when I used to diligently cut out the series’ pages from The Week and staple them to make a poor-man’s version of the comic book since the original ones were priced a bit high for my pocket money) but have read most of the works and also used to see the series on TV, even though the Hindi versions didn’t do justice to the characters or their utterances! The movie instalment, however, is an immensely enjoyable spectacle which brings out the comic world onto the screen in amazing vividity and vibrancy.

  Secret of the Unicorn

The movie follows Tintin and Snowy’s adventures as a wooden model of a long lost ship – The Unicorn – and the secret that it hides leads them onto a fascinating journey across the world. They come across Captain Haddock, whose ancestor the ship once belonged to and holds the key to unlocking the mystery behind it all. There are the bumbling cops Thompson and Thomson, the villain Sakharine, the mutinous former ship-mates of Captain Haddock, the singing lady Bianca Castafiore and a whole lot of fun, frolic and edge-of-the-seat thrills and spills.

The story is engaging and fast-paced and though it combines elements from three different Tintin books, the cohesiveness is there. Having the movie animated enables several scenes to be grandiose and large-scaled, something which would probably have been difficult to shoot the normal way, even with CGI. The animation also copies the look and feel of the original comic books and makes one feel that the books itself have come to life.

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Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I

I’ll admit it: I’ve never felt so bored or yawned so much in a Harry Potter movie. Not even while I was seated in the left-most seat on the first row at Prasadz IMAX for HP & TGOF…whilst my neck muscles sure needed some respite after that experience, I still felt excited at the movie & the happenings. Not so much this time around.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows or HP7 for short, feels like (to borrow a line from a sitcom) the stand-up comedian you’ve to sit through before Pink Floyd  shows up. Its just the prelude to bigger, and hopefully better, things in store. A tedious, slow and dragging build-up to an ultimate showdown – the finale. The Denouement. I know I said the same things after HBP but back then I didn’t know the finale would be a two-part one 😐

HP7

With Albus Dumbledore now Avada Kedavra-ed, the Dark Lord and his minions train their sights on Harry Potter and the Order (of the Phoenix) try their bloody best to keep him away from the enemy’s clutches. Camouflaged subterfuge or not, the death eaters still find them out and after the death of one and injury to another member of the order, they find that the Ministry of Magic has also fallen foul of Harry and have branded him their Most Undesirable No. 1. Harry, Ron & Hermoine are forced to go on the run and try to find the rest of the Horcruxes, the things that hold the secret to Voldemort’s life/death. Wandering across forests, plains, grasslands, snowy villages, hillsides etc, they come to know of the story of The Deathly Hallows which probably holds the key to unlocking the mystery of the last Horcruxes. The movie ends with Voldemort laying hands on one of them…will Harry find the others in time for the great final showdown?

We’ll know in 2011.

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Movie Review – Lafangey Parindey

With a title like Lafangey Parindey one would expect the movie to be somewhat crass, riddled with street-gangs, brawls, bloody fights, bruises, cuss-words, the works. And maybe a love-story amidst all that disorder coz let’s face it – it’s a movie. And bang! the lead actors are Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone – two of the classier actors around. Totally out of place!

Lafangey Parindey

Lafangey Parindey is set in the Tilakwadi chawl in Mumbai, where Nandan Kamtekar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is known by the name of one-shot-Nandu – a loafer by day and boxer by night, winning fights for the local goon, Usman bhai (Piyush Mishra). As with any tapori, his role-model is another bigger one – Anna (Kay Kay Menon) and in helping him out after a hit one rainy night, he causes an accident which changes everything. Anna dies but Nandu escapes further punishment after the case is suppressed.

Pinky Patkar (Deepika Padukone) is a free-spirited girl in the same chawl, who aspires to raise above the muck around her by skating/dancing her way into a reality show and win it. But as fate would have it, she’s blinded in an accident and her dreams lie shattered. But around comes Nandu and he trains her to “see” without sight and nurtures her ambitions to win the competition as her dancing partner. Before long, friendship blossoms into love but the past returns to haunt them and threatens to wreck their relationships and Pinky’s dreams. Or does it?

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Movie Review – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The movie’s trailer doesn’t say it (maybe) but from the producers and director of the hit movie National Treasure, comes this summer’s magical journey into the world of sorcery, ages-old battle between good-versus-evil and one in which the fate of mankind lies in the hands of an unsuspecting 20-year physics nerd. Who doesn’t want to be, but has to become, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

The Sorcerer's Apprenice

Nicholas Cage stars as Balthazar Blake, an ageless sorcerer, who’s been fighting alongside fellow sorcerer Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) & sorceress Veronica (Monica Bellucci) under the guidance of sage sorcerer Merlin, against the evil Morgana Le Fay. In 740 AD, Horvath turns against them and along with Morgana, kills Merlin but before they could wreak havoc upon mankind, Veronica absorbs Morgana within herself and Balthazar entraps all three into a prison-doll called the grimhold. Merlin suggests Balthazar should search for a sorcerer who’s the Prime Merliner, one who’s destined to defeat these evil powers. Balthazar’s quest cuts across history before he finds David Stutler (Jay Baruchel). Balthazar becomes Dave’s master and as his apprentice, Dave must learn to control the magical powers and use them to save the world!

I’m a big fan of the National Treasure movies which were about treasures, clues in plain-sight and a fun-ride for its hunting. Director Jon Turteltaub and Nicholas Cage turn into the mystical world of sorcery and magic for TSA and it isn’t as fun a ride as a treasure hunt. For one, movies such as Harry Potter, Narnia, LoTR have made it a far lesser novelty of a genre and unless it is typically different or offers something new, its gonna be a yawn-inducing affair. Thankfully, TSA has few interesting happenings which though not novel, do hold the audience’s sway, especially the fun-loving ones. Cynical ones will find this boring (ahem!)

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Movie Review: Raavan

Mani Rathnam’s magnum-opus Raavan  hit the screens two days ago and I hit the plush chairs at PVR to catch it up on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve hit the sack and rested those wearisome muscles rather than risk a jaw-ache from all those yawns! Coz it wasn’t as high and mighty as its made out to be.

“Old wine – new bottle” is passé! Old wine, re-distilled (read re-interpreted) and served up in rustic yet beautiful khullads is the new mantra. Vishal Bhardwaj did it with Omkara. Prakash Jha did it with Rajneeti and now Mani does the same with Raavan.

Raavan Poster

Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) is the scourge/saviour of a fictitious place Laal Maati. He’s the son of the soil, who rights the wrongs of the law enforcement officers by killing them or burning them at a stake! Locals deify him and none dare defy him. SP Dev Pratap Sharma (Vikram) is the man set out to hunt him down, at any cost. The hunt becomes a personal one when his wife Raagini (Aishwarya Rai) is kidnapped by Beera and held hostage. The age-old good vs. evil struggle commences amidst the backdrop of jungles, waterfalls, caves, canyons and sleepwatching audiences!

Firstly, why the place is named Laal Maati is beyond me. Given there’s not as much as a sand dune but acres and acres of jungle, humungous waterfalls, ravenous canyons and caves, black rocky cliffs with an idol of Shiva atop and also what looked like a poor-man’s Angkor Vat in between! Agreed, the locales and picturesque and breathtaking but it scarcely looks like North India. It rains almost throughout the movie (Kerala?); there’s a huge river & a huger waterfall (Karnataka?); lots and lots of jungle (Madhya Pradesh?); we see tribal folk and sweater-wearing policemen (Bihar/UP?); rusticness & artistry abounds in the mud-walled villages and mountain-top temples (Rajasthan?). Clearly, Geography is not the movie’s strong point!

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Movie Review: Housefull

Having not liked Heyy Babyy one bit, I approached Housefull with skepticism and my doubts were seemingly coming true within the first hour of the movie! The goings on were so predictable and at times, so boring that I felt this was my second consecutive dud-movie-going (after Prince!). But director Sajid Khan salvages the movie majorly with the second half, as the goings on become much more hilarious and rib tickling. He blots his copybook a bit with a Priyadarsan-esque climax but overall, its a good watch.

Housefull Movie

Housefull revolves around bad-luck-struck Aarush (Akshay Kumar) who brings ill-luck upon himself and on others wherever he goes. So much so that he’s employed in a casino to repel the winning streaks of players! Fed up with the job and cast aside by his lover, he returns to London to his best friend Bob (Riteish Deshmukh) & his wife Hetal (Lara Dutta) but his bad luck follows him. In a bid to get rid of the ‘loser’ tag by finding true love, he marries Devika (Jiah Khan), gets jilted and then meets Soundarya a.k.a. Sandy (Deepika Padukone). Thrown into the mix then are Sandy’s possessive anna Major Krishna Rao (Arjun Rampal) and Hetal’s father Batuk Patel (Boman Irani) and the happenings just get crazy and crazier!

A ‘loser’ attracting more bad luck and compounding his situation further is nothing new and this stands out as a big deterrent in the first half, with some loud & awkward scenes not helping matters. Akshay’s and Jiah’s arranged marriage is without substance or background and that too stands out as a sore thumb. The movie picks up a bit with Chunkey Pandey’s irritating but comical Italian+Pathan character lending some relief. Deepika’s introduction is none too convincing either and by the time interval approaches, one wonders if its all going downhill. But the entry of Arjun Rampal and Boman Irani lend a huge boost and the ensuing mistaken identities and the confusions borne out of that are simply hilarious. An unnecessarily-included gay angle comes across as annoying but funny nonetheless. The fact that the movie All The Best had similar happenings kept on niggling at the back of my mind but I swatted it out anyway!

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